I deliberated over where to write this but decided as there were other things I may wish to talk about elsewhere I'd do that here this Friday.
A few years back a Government Minister here in Great Britain, raised several eyebrows when he appeared to suggest a major measure designed to set a basic level of pay - the National Minimum Wage - ought not to apply to learning disabled employees and the resultant storm left people thinking the idea was discarded.
Recently a noted personality and champion of disabled people and indeed parent of a 'grown up' child with Downs Syndrome, Mrs Rose Monckton decided to raise this topic again as the person who runs a training program for learning disabled adults.
The essence of her argument run that the output might not justify the National Living Wage for those over Twenty-four years plus the National Minimum Wage of Sixteen through Twenty-four year olds and many lived with their parents and so didn't 'need' more than say Two pounds per hour as their parents provided for them. Hate the expression, but in essence this two pounds would be more like 'pocket money' for them being used for snacks, trips out and clothes rather than say food or housing costs.
By doing this, she argued learning disabled people would be more included in the work force and more importantly would feel they had a place in society that would be valued.
I suppose the first thing is to I say I share the same objective not least for having learning and developmental disabilities on top of physical ones, believe strongly in a more inclusive society and that even people with learning disabilities should have employment opportunities.
That's where it stops with me because while some may be content with living with parents or some shared home with assistance -which absolutely is their right- the problem with this is it means they could not look for an flat where they would need to find money even if they claimed back some housing costs though other welfare programs.
The second area of concern is we are purposely exempting people on the basis purely of diagnosis and labelling from the everyday wage expectation whereas in the past 'top up' schemes would of helped companies employ people by paying them so they offered the same wages to a disabled employee.
The third area is if the argument is that some work may be therapeutic in terms of teaching life skills, the 'value' of work, retention of abilities which as someone who is disabled I'd agree with, then there was no reason they could not be permitted to work in a voluntary capacity, assisted with any necessary travel costs and perhaps allowed to keep a small amount of any money they were given by way say of tips without having to declare everything.
That would provide for much of this, be more flexible and not compromise the notion of everybody regardless of disability being literally of equal value reflected in their wages.